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The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich

A History of Nazi Germany
Written by: William L. Shirer
Narrated by: Grover Gardner
Length: 57 hrs and 11 mins
5 out of 5 stars (126 ratings)
Price: CDN$ 50.07
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Publisher's Summary

Since its publication in 1960, William L. Shirer’s monumental study of Hitler’s German empire has been widely acclaimed as the definitive record of the 20th century’s blackest hours. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich offers an unparalleled and thrillingly told examination of how Adolf Hitler nearly succeeded in conquering the world. With millions of copies in print around the globe, it has attained the status of a vital and enduring classic.

Now, many years after the end of World War II, it may seem incredible that our most valued institutions and way of life were threatened by the menace that Hitler and the Third Reich represented. Shirer’s description of events and the cast of characters who played such pivotal roles in defining the course Europe was to take is unforgettable.

Benefiting from his many years as a reporter, and thus a personal observer of the rise of Nazi Germany, and availing himself of some of the 485 tons of documents from the German Foreign Office, as well as countless other diaries, phone transcriptions, and other written records, meticulously kept at every level by the Germans, Shirer has put together a brutally objective account of how Hitler wrested political control of Germany, and planned and executed his six-year quest to dominate the world, only to see Germany go down in flames.

This is a richly rewarding experience for anyone who wants to come to grips with the mysterious question of how this menace to civilization ever came into being, much less was sustained for as long as it was. The answer, unfortunately, is that most of Germany, for a whole host of reasons, embraced Nazism and the fanaticism that Hitler engendered.

©1990 William L. Shirer (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the critics say

“One of the most important works of history of our time.” ( The New York Times)
”A splendid work of scholarship, objective in method, sound in judgment, inescapable in its conclusions.” ( The New York Times Book Review)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    5 out of 5 stars

A couple of flat spots but otherwise great..

I was skeptical of buying such a long title. Sometimes they are hard to stay focused. This book does an awesome job building up the Nazi party at the start. There is a couple of flat spots leading up to the war but once the war starts, its hard to put down again. As the other reviews note, there is something about it that makes this book stand out from other long forms.

The way the author places himself in the book is good too.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Truly Amazing

After completely listening to the book I have to say I am very impressed, while being a bit dated it hit all of the high notes exceptionally well. I would definitely recommend this behemoth of a book

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Like climbing Everest

I was fully aware of how long this book is when I ordered it, but getting through it was a real slog. I give the late William Shirer my utmost respect for the monumental task he took on, and achieved, but I swear he included every minuscule piece of detail he came across in his exhaustive research. Less would've been more. The narration of the audiobook was flawless but pedestrian, and would've benefitted from other voices to clearly delineate quoted remarks. Nonetheless, for historical value this must still be THE definitive, no-nonsense account of the rise and fall of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime. As I reached the end, I could only think of Sir Edmund Hillary at the top of Mt. Everest... "my God, I made it!"

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Incredible story

Awesome story, in a terrible sense. Good pacing by the storyteller. An appropriate amount of emotion when quoting. The book itself had a bit much name and fact stating to be listened to fluidly.

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worthwhile read

Book is concise, but detailed. A very worthwhile read for anyone interested in the subject matter.

Narrator was great.

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Great Book

This was an amazing book that detailed the rise and fall of Hitler and the third Reich. I think this book could have been several hundred pages shorter as I found it went into too much detail about certain subjects which left me a little bored at times.

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A riveting story told superbly.

This book covers a horrible time in human history. The writer explains the narrative and makes the story understandable for the common reader. Lets not repeat these mistakes.

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Total power corrupts

Listening to this audio tape in this time of rising totalitarian indifference around the world is a good reminder of what could be on the horizon. Let's not let history repeat itself.

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A Great Masterpiece

#Audible1

I have always wanted to get to this monumental work, and hoped it would live up to its reputation. It did. It is masterfully researched and written. Most importantly its research and conclusions have stood the test of time, proving to be one of the great works to examine the rise of Hitler and Nazism. The narrator Grover Gardner is exceptional. His ability to clearly articulate the often challenging German words with ease and in a pace and style that made the book compelling and hard to turn off. This is one of the greats. Well worth the credit and the time to work through this masterpiece.

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Well written and well performed.

Well written and performed. Hard subject matter to hear at some points because of the tragic ends of so many innocents. Very relevant today, especially the use of Big Lies, a term the Nazis coined.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jonnie
  • Panama City, FL, United States
  • 2010-11-08

Held my interest for 57 hours and 13 minutes

I always buy a long volume with trepidation wondering how many "dry spots" or "dry epochs" will be contained therein. This volume was amazing in that I was fascinated and interested every minute. The story focused on the characters while the overall picture was interwoven in their interactions and lives, particulary Hitler of course. The details added to the interest rather than extend it unnecessarily. This is a book that I will very probably savor again.
I enjoy history and military history and this is probably the best I have read.

186 of 195 people found this review helpful

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  • Gary
  • Las Cruces, NM, United States
  • 2012-10-08

Narrative possesses listener, it's that good

The book will hit you at a visceral level and be prepared to listen to it beyond your normal listening routine. It's not a history of the war. The war is treated as a background character to the machinations of the political intrigue that transpired.

The book is a series of stories with a narrative that ties them all together. Be prepared to listen to 8 or so hours about a single topic such as the run up to the incursion of Austria or the invasion of Poland. The book is not a set of sound bites but is mostly exhaustive details on the political intrigue surrounding the topic.

Why can't all readers be as good as Grover Gardner?

I had ran out of science books on audible to listen to and had low expectations for this book. My expectations were wrong.






49 of 51 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mike From Mesa
  • 2011-02-01

Quite simply the best

Of all the books I have read covering the Nazi era this is simply the best book of its type. Nothing else comes close to its readability and scope, and Shirer's presence in Germany as a reporter at the time allowed him to add many personal observations that add greatly to the authenticity of the book. While the book is now about 50 years old, research since its publication has changed few of its conclusions. It is less academic and detailed than Richard Evans triology of the period, but I found Shirer's book both more complete in its observations and much more readable. The quality of this book is evident from the fact that in all of that time, and with all of the books on the period that have been written, this book has never been out of print.

And though it needs nothing else, Grover Gardiner's flawless reading only makes the book even better. This is easily one of the 10 best books I have ever read from Audible and I recommend it without reservation to anyone with an interest in World War II in Europe.

A word of caution - this is not a dispassionate book. Shirer had definate opinions and those are not hidden. His distain for many of the primary players is clearly evident in his descriptions and that may offend some readers. This is not an academic book (See Richard Evans' Nazi trilogy for a dispassionate academic telling of the period), but no other book comes close to its readability and comprehensiveness. It covers the political events and there is no concentration on the war (see Richard Atkinson's WW II military trilogy for that).

114 of 122 people found this review helpful

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  • GH
  • Sherborn, MA, United States
  • 2012-10-09

A Tale of Momumental Evil, Stupidity and Hatred

Never before had I read a firsthand account, from primary sources, as damning as this book. All of the negative superlatives that one could pen I have not the number of commas in my repertoire to string them together. You get a striking picture of Hitler, who he was, what he did and how he failed. As grotesque as he may be, the intellectual flyweights he surrounded himself with defy understanding. How, intelligent and gifted military leaders allowed themselves to be led into the manifest slaughter of innocent people – well I have no words. Read the book and you too will be speechless.

The book is built on primary reference materials and hence, I confess, unless I had listened to it, I would not have been able to get through it. It is essentially a 50 hour audio documentary. Although I could not listen at my usual three to four hours a day because I was so disturbed and depressed by the subject matter, I had to finish. And, to think, how close Hilter came to winning on at least four occasions makes me breathless about what evil he would have wrought and what the world would have been like today.

Hitler came to power and in twelve short years of rule and conquest - five of them in war - caused over 30 million people to be killed, not mention the number of people forced to kill on his behalf or to fend off those trying to kill them. It is a testament to how a single perverted point of view with power to influence the masses can spin lies and deceit that move ordinary people to be puppets. Looking to today’s world situation, you have to ask yourself whether parallels exist. You must listen to this book! I also highly recommend the Winds of War and War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk which is a true story set with fictional characters. For a Japanese view of history, read Flyboys by James Bradley.

This is must read for a serious historian. Do not expect to find gruesome details; expect to find a documented story that causes you to reconsider history and today’s world.

157 of 169 people found this review helpful

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  • Sharon Schafer Bennett
  • The Woodlands, TX, United States
  • 2012-03-04

A View of what an American saw of the Third Reich

Mr. Shirer wrote this book in the '50's, while the second world war was still very fresh in everyone's mind. While some of the advantages to examining the events that occurred after many of the principles involved had passed are clearly evident, I was very enlightened about the events that led to the rise and fall of the Third Reich. It is very evident that Mr. Shirer has certain biases that were widespread during that period. However, even that frames the events in a way a more open acceptance would not be able to do. This was a great listen, and I found it captivating.

23 of 24 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Tony
  • 2010-12-14

I've listened to Grover Gardner more than my wife

It might be 50 years old, but William Shirer's book is just as gripping and just as important today as ever. It is amazingly well researched and the perspective of someone that was a close and personal observer to much of the Nazi period.

Yes, it is long. At 57 plus hours, my wife reckons I've listened to Grover Gardner more than I've listened to her in 15 years of marriage. But Mr Gardner stays claim and steady throughout and never gets upset at my "what?" His narration is absolutely first class. One can't imagine a better combination than Shirer and Gardner.

109 of 120 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • David
  • Ann Arbor, MI, United States
  • 2010-08-06

Very Necessary Reading/Listening

In the 1990's I listened to the older BOT cassette version of this work read by Larry McKeever. He did a good job. To have this redone by Grover Gardner is a HUGE gift to us all (Thank you Grover). He does a much better job and his European pronunciations are very competent. I have read that Shirer's work is not liked by many historians in this field (especially by the Germans) but I find his writing to be on par with the great narrative historians (McCullough, Caro, Chernow, etc.). I am also listening to Richard Evans's Third Reich trilogy and, although its more thoroughly researched, his writing is not near Shirer's in elegance. And the reader is not near the quality of Mr Gardner. One of the lessons learned from this tragic story is that numerous and fractured political parties can lead to disaster for everyone.

130 of 145 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Judd Bagley
  • 2011-04-05

Much needed context

I've spent my life hearing important WWII stories, but never managed to have quite the sense of context needed to understand how they all fit together. This book analyzes the most important factor of the war -- Hitler's Third Reich -- in minute detail from the beginning to the end. And in so doing, provides the reader with a amazingly thorough understanding of exactly how the world landed in the mess it did.
This work of exhaustive research, beautifully composed and narrated, should be required reading for anybody who values democracy and peace.

41 of 46 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jan
  • Mission, BC
  • 2010-11-26

Its few flaws are inherent in its unique value

I rarely read historic works, but I'd heard that this was THE book on the subject and was compelled to find out what the fuss was about. I had to go back and relisten to sections quite often, but it was worth every rewind to make sure I had the players straight. The minor failings for me are: Shirer is quite biased against Germans in some statements. If I were German I would find it a bit patronizing. Also, Shirer, a man of his times, makes no bones about his homophobic leanings. But, it is a book of its time and these biases situate the reader more firmly in that time with Shirer, who lived it as an observer. I found that I was discussing the book with my partner, who was also listening to it, quite a lot. We were making comparisons to other, more recent political happenings and finding that quite a disturbing prospect. The audio book is also masterfully read. This reader is gifted and the absolute perfect, grave and strong voice for this.

22 of 25 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Tad Davis
  • 2010-10-19

Long, disturbing, important

Grover Gardner is a good choice as narrator for this long, disturbing, and important book. As he did in Shelby Foote's three-volume history of the Civil War, Gardner shows himself a master of keeping the narrative going and keeping the details clear. William Shirer apparently got a lot of grief when the book was first published (some 50 years ago) -- a journalist trespassing on the domain of historians -- but he seems to have read every Nazi document that had been made public at the time, and combined with his razor-sharp eye-witness accounts of several key events, the book has an immediacy that few other histories are able to convey. I'm sure many of the facts have been refined, and I hope to finish listening to Richard Evans' recent history of the Third Reich as well, but I doubt that later volumes will have the same visceral impact this one did.

47 of 55 people found this review helpful